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PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:21 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:47 pm
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Year and Trim: 1995 SE
Hi, I have a problem with my '95 Bonneville. The engine cradle fell off of my car. The rear end of the cradle has rusted out and it dropped about three inches. There is no frame damage, it is only on the cradle itself. However, it did break the steering column as well, so I have no steering currently. It seems it is just a broken pin connecting two of the rods in the column that is the problem.

I was wondering if this has happened to anyone else and if and what they did to fix it. I am in the automotive program at my high school, and I am able to work on it myself. About how much would it cost to repair everything? I don't have a lot of money to put into this car, but I would like to fix it if possible.

My teacher suggested placing large washers on the bolts that hold up the cradle since it has rusted out. He also told me to replace the rubber bushings on the cradle and bolts, as some of them were in bad shape. He also made it sound like the steering column wouldn't be too difficult to fix, as its just a broken pin.

So basically, what I'm asking is what ideas or suggestions anyone here has. Should I go through with this and try to fix it? Or will it cost more money than I am able to spend. I would say a couple hundred dollars is my limit. Probably $300 at the most. Thanks for the help.

Pictures I took that show the damage --> http://imgur.com/a/NIbrv


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:42 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2010 5:09 pm
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Location: Schaumburg, IL
Year and Trim: 1996 SSEi
This unfortunately happened to me on my old 94 SSEi. It was repaired by a hole in the wall frane shop through a hole in the wall stealership. Didn't last, didn't hold up. All their welds could not hold up to any sort of spirited driving. But don't count it out, there has been somebody who has gone through some pretty extensive work. MattStrike would probably be the guy to talk to and get his opinion. If not you could always think about switching your good motor and trans to a rust free shell.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 10:55 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:00 pm
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Location: NE Iowa
Year and Trim: 1995 Bonneville SE
2000 Bonneville SLE
Same thing happened to our 95' Bonneville SE. The bushings/bolts rusted out and the cradle dropped. I had my mechanic fix the car (new bushings and bolts) and it cost around $400. as I remember...it was several years ago. If you free spin the steering wheel you will break a part that will make it so your air bags no longer work. (forget the name of the part right now) and this part is kind of expensive if bought new at dealer. Is the cradle rusted out or just the bolts/bushings?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:50 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 11:14 pm
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Location: Racine, Wisconsin
Year and Trim: 97.2 40th SLE
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94 SSEi
Looks like it is actually the cradle that rusted out, as you can see the bolts still attached to the car. The is the easier of 2 evils to fix. You could just get a new clean cradle from another car or junkyard and swap it on.

If the body of the car was rusted and tore the bolts out you would be in much deeper trouble, although it looks as though the rust is starting to set in there as well.

I would check the body where the bolts mount and see how badly that is rusted. Most of this can be fixed with welding in some new metal. I'm sure you current subframe could be repaired but it'd probably be easier to just get a clean replacement.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:49 pm 
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Location: NE Iowa
Year and Trim: 1995 Bonneville SE
2000 Bonneville SLE
Sorry, I missed the pics! I would agree with 94SilverSSEi....make sure bolts have good metal to hold them if not reinforce and find clean cradle at junk/salvage yard.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:00 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:47 pm
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Year and Trim: 1995 SE
Thanks for the replies everybody.

94SilverSSEi wrote:
Looks like it is actually the cradle that rusted out, as you can see the bolts still attached to the car. The is the easier of 2 evils to fix. You could just get a new clean cradle from another car or junkyard and swap it on.

If the body of the car was rusted and tore the bolts out you would be in much deeper trouble, although it looks as though the rust is starting to set in there as well.

I would check the body where the bolts mount and see how badly that is rusted. Most of this can be fixed with welding in some new metal. I'm sure you current subframe could be repaired but it'd probably be easier to just get a clean replacement.


So could I weld some metal onto the subframe as well? The only reason I'm asking is because after looking at it, the frame itself would be pretty difficult to remove and replace, and I'm not sure how much a new one would cost. I'd like to fix this while spending as little as possible. But I will start looking around for a cradle replacement.

Bonneville'sRock wrote:
Same thing happened to our 95' Bonneville SE. The bushings/bolts rusted out and the cradle dropped. I had my mechanic fix the car (new bushings and bolts) and it cost around $400. as I remember...it was several years ago. If you free spin the steering wheel you will break a part that will make it so your air bags no longer work. (forget the name of the part right now) and this part is kind of expensive if bought new at dealer. Is the cradle rusted out or just the bolts/bushings?

Thanks for telling me this! I would never have known the airbag could be broken without hearing this.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:58 am 
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The cradle can be removed with the engine and transmission still in place, although they will have to be supported from above. I'd expect a shop to charge about 5-6 hours for a job like this, and you'll also need to get an alignment done.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:55 am 
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Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 9:38 pm
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Year and Trim: 1997 SE Anniversary Edition
Bonneville'sRock wrote:
If you free spin the steering wheel you will break a part that will make it so your air bags no longer work. (forget the name of the part right now) and this part is kind of expensive if bought new at dealer.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:36 pm 
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Location: Dearborn, MI
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The subframe has a specific shape that interfaces with the bushings - if the subframe rotted out then so did the bushings. Price out the bushings new... Don't just use some washers to bridge the gap, if you did the bushings wouldn't dampen against torsion in body roll or during steering.

You can weld on the subframe. But how bad is it overall? You need to assess if it's just rust because the tires kicked salt and crap on them (because that's where they are) or if it's a problem on the entire subframe that warrants replacement. Good luck finding rust-free parts in the junkyard if you live in an area that gets salt in the winter. Expect to pay about $80+ for the subframe from a u-pull type yard.

If your subframe can be repaired; after having done this myself I would recommend doing this a little differently than I did (I wanted nearly solid mounts...) The best approach is to go to the junkyard and get the subframe bushings from a newer car with a steel subframe, cut out the part of the subframe from the newer car that the bushings mount to (they will not be easy to replicate later), cut out the rust on your subframe, and graft the newer steel into your subframe. All you need are bushings that are similar in dimensions, and a re-alignment. If this is the way you want to fix it, you need somebody that knows how to weld properly. Overlap, new metal subflush, do not butt-joint. It is critical to cut the metal on the rusty subframe back far enough from the rust. You can't weld to rust. The subframe metal is a little over 2mm thick, so you will need multiple passes to ensure that you have a good weld. A good MIG can do this, just need to get full weld penetration.

If you have access to the welder (or a good friend), parts to do this should be cheap from a junkyard. And paint and coat everything in line of sight of the wheel wells with something heavy like a truck bedliner to keep the salt and crud out and prevent continued rusting.

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